Dismissal leaves future of state fairground uncertain
Despite increasing attendance, fair manager Shannon Woodworth was dismissed by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, and some feel that a change may hurt the positive momentum at a time when the local community and the state can least afford it.
Over the past decade the state of Illinois has invested millions in the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds, and in return the surrounding community has invested in itself.
“When you say Du Quoin you think of the fairgrounds, when you say fairgrounds you think of Du Quoin,” said Brad Meyers. “The relationship we’ve had and nurtured over the years is that one really can’t survive without the other.”
Over the years Du Quoin Mayor Rex Duncan says rumors have surfaced that state budget problems could close the fairgrounds, and handicap the local economy.
“It would be a bitter pill for the entire region to have to swallow if that were to happen,” said Rex Duncan.
“When we have events here in Du Quoin we don’t have enough hotels for all of the events that happen,” said Meyers. “When you start shutting down that arena people in Marion, Benton, Carbondale, all of these hotels that are usually packed they won’t have that income.”
To make the fairgrounds profitable for the state and squash rumors of closure Duncan says it’s a simple solution.
“Schedule that fairgrounds tightly year round,” said Duncan. “If they do that and if they’re smart with their money, and they’re smart with the money they generate, that Du Quoin State Fairgrounds can finish in the black.”
We tried to reach out to the state for comment on this story, but they have yet to return our calls.
No deadline has been set on naming a new fair manager.